Vanilla Poached Pears with Dried Cherries

Doesn’t poached fruit sound classy and elegant and like something only one would do if forced? Well listen, I thought the same thing until I actually poached fruit at home. I did it at pastry school — but we also made five other fruit desserts that day and so I wasn’t exactly tuned in to how delightful poached fruit was…

So here’s the thing, poached fruit is super easy to make and it’s also extremely versatile as you can flavor the poaching liquid with any thing you desire: ginger, lemon, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, the list goes on and on. Plus, in addition to the spices that you can add, you can also feel free to have a little fun with what kind of liquid you poach in. I started out with a vanilla sugar syrup but you can poach in wine or even add tea to the liquid too (that’s what’s next for me!). Even better, try adding some dried fruit, think cherries, figs, apricots, into the poaching liquid about five minutes before the fruit is tender. This plumps up the dried fruit and makes it oh-so-delicious and juicy.

You can use poached pears as an elegant dessert served with some lovely vanilla ice cream and a little of the reduced poached liquid as a sauce, put it into a salad or you can do what Collin Murray does, dice up the poached pear and eat it with the plumped cherries, Greek yogurt and granola. Classy breakfast.

Vanilla Poached Pears with Dried Cherries (inspired by several vintage and modern sources — mostly by David Lebovitz)

3 pears, not over-ripe, peeled, halved and cored

4 cups water

2 cups granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean, spilt

½ cup dried cherries

In a large pan, combine the water, sugar and vanilla bean; heat till the sugar has dissolved. Gently place the pears in the liquid and place a mesh strainer over-top to prevent the pears from floating. Allow the pears to simmer about 20 minutes before checking them by inserted a paring knife into one of them — if it goes in easily, the pear is done. Add the cherries into the strainer making sure that the liquid is covering them and allow them to plump up, about five minutes.

Once tender, allow the pears to cool in their poaching liquid. If you want, take a cup of the poaching liquid and boil it until it is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Use this sauce as a topping if serving the pears as a dessert.

Store the pears in their poaching liquid in a covered container in the fridge for no more then one week. Enjoy.

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